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French Health Minister Wants Review of Mediator, Figaro Says

French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand wants a review of why the Mediator diabetes drug, which may have led to the deaths of as many as 2,000 people, was kept on the market so long, Le Figaro reported, citing an interview with Bertrand.

Mediator, produced by Les Laboratoires Servier, France’s second-largest drugmaker, was sold in France from 1976 until last year. Bertrand in a Nov. 16 statement urged patients having taken Mediator for at least three months during the past four years to immediately see their doctor as the drug has been linked to heart valve problems.

Bertrand told Le Figaro he wants to know everything about Mediator, since it began being sold in 1976, and why it remained on the French market after health authorities had been alerted to its possible risks. Local health authorities may have erred in not pulling Mediator from the market earlier, as other countries did, Bertrand told the newspaper.

Servier decided not to renew Mediator’s marketing authorization in Spain in 2003 and in Italy in 2005, Lucy Vincent, a spokeswoman for Servier, said in a telephone interview today.

The closely held drugmaker, which is based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, outside of Paris, is “of course collaborating, willing to collaborate and totally transparent on the dossier from the start up until now,” Vincent said. The company has no data on the exact number of deaths Mediator may have been linked to, she said. The drug is no longer sold anywhere, she added.

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